Efforts to stop racehorse breakdowns have increased exponentially in the past decade, with many high-tech tools being brought into play. The learning curve on these advanced diagnostics can be steep and additional complexities surface when veterinarians are expected to draw conclusions from current images without access to previous medical records: Something that may appear “significant” on an image may be an old, non-issue to the horse, reports Thoroughbred Daily News.
A study funded by the Oak Tree Charitable Foundation will be launched in Southern California to help racetrack veterinarians who use MRIs decipher what the images are telling them. The study will use 23 Thoroughbreds Dr. Tim Grande, the chief official veterinarian of the California Horse Racing Board, has deemed lame in their fetlock. The lame horses will be chosen from a pool of horses that are a morning-of or race-day scratch; those that are lame in the test barn or after a scheduled work or race; or those that have a voided claim.
A group of 23 control horses that show no signs of lameness will also be used; these horses will be similar in age, sex, and class to the lame horses. Researchers will be looking for changes in density within the proximal sesamoid bones and distal cannon bone, swelling in the cannon bone, and bone bruising. Each of these relates to fetlock failure and condylar fracture.
Though the MRI is not new, there is still skepticism about what it can “tell” veterinarians. Researchers hope the study will increase belief in the machine’s ability to assist horses and their owners.
Read more at TDN.
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